Ariana Grande made 90s babies go crazy with a surprise performance with *NSYNC at Coachella
We’re past the point of designating any 12-month period “the year of the woman.” But the 2019 Coachella was definitely the year women dominated the festival.
Ariana Grande was the only female headliner of the just-concluded two-weekend festival, but Janelle Monáe outperformed Friday’s bill-topper, Childish Gambino, and Billie Eilish dwarfed Tame Impala in terms of fan adoration and online interest on Saturday night.
Kanye West created the biggest festival buzz with his Sunday Service on a stage that was built just for him on a hillside in a camping area where no one had ever performed a major concert before. It was a historic moment, exposing another staple of African-American culture to Coachella’s growing international audience. But even Kanye realized Easter Sunday is bigger than he is. So he shared his stage with dozens of singers, dancers and instrumentalists dedicated to going to Coachella to tell it on a mountain.
This festival always likes to nurture artists to give them a shot at moving up the Coachella poster at subsequent events. This year, the artists most likely to advance were talented women. Monáe and Eilish, who were both booked in support slots, are closest to becoming headliners, but BLACKPINK, Rosalía and H.E.R are climbers.
BLACKPINK is the K-pop group that is the most popular Korean female vocal quartet ever. They played the Staples Center on Wednesday, so they could definitely headline Coachella. They have a full band and an ensemble of dancers, and they play a powerful blend of hip hop with attitude and pop with cool harmonies.
Rosalía is a Spanish singer who has given flamenco music a powerful electronic twist. She’s a strong, dynamic dancer who leaves it all on the floor and Pharrell Williams is producing her next album. She soon could be ready for Coachella’s next big step: having a Spanish-language headliner.
H.E.R. was named the “next big thing” when she was with Radio Disney in 2009, using her real name, Gabi Wilson, Now, at age 21, she has a soulfulness beyond her years. She won two R&B Grammy Awards in February and she’s still discovering who she is.
One of the most fun performers at this festival is Lizzo, a multi-talented singer, rapper and flutist who celebrates being big — in a literal and figurative sense. She has a wicked sense of humor and a pathos audiences can appreciate. She blew the roof off the Mojave tent, which was overflowing with fans on Sunday.
Likewise, Calypso Rose drew a large, enthusiastic crowd Friday in the Gobi tent after the 78-year-old native of Tabago was hailed last week as the oldest performer in Coachella history. She had a regal quality befitting the queen of calypso and it was great to see Goldenvoice President and CEO Paul Tollett not only book her, but hype her at a time when many veteran festivalgoers are feeling that Coachella is forgetting old-timers.
We can’t ignore standout male performers such Weezer and Anderson .Paak with The Free Nationals, just as we can’t hype Kacy Musgraves as a potential Coachella headliner. Weezer and Paak killed it at Coachella, but Musgraves isn’t ready for the Coachella main slot even though she just won Album of the Year at the Grammys. She’s still not a dynamic stage performer.
But there were so many great women performers this year — many of whom elevated their stage shows with the attention to detail normally reserved for big Broadway musicals — it’s exciting to see Goldenvoice not just embrace the need for more female acts, but scour the globe for women who can deliver compelling performances.
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